Any act that involves physical harm or the threat of harm with the use of a weapon will carry serious penalties such as prison.

Most of these charges require a mandatory conviction which will give you a criminal record; thus making you look like a dangerous person in background checks. You cannot seal or expunge these offenses from your criminal record and they will follow you the rest of your life.

Fort Walton Beach Violent Crime Lawyer

Getting the best lawyer possible immediately is very important. I represent people who have been accused of assault, battery, robbery and other crimes involving physical violence.  Often charges are based on exaggerated claims and an experienced lawyer can help you reduce or dismiss those charges. This can only be done by a lawyer who will challenge and contest the evidence.

Call The Law Offices of Robert A. Dees today at 850-439-0999 to schedule a consultation. We represent clients throughout Okaloosa County, including Fort Walton Beach, Destin, and Niceville.

Assault and Battery

Assault and Battery are two different charges with very different meanings.

An assault, under Fla.Stat. § 784.011, is a threat of violence upon another person. To be convicted, you must have had the apparent ability to carry out the threat and the victim must have a well-founded fear that the violence was imminent. It is a second-degree misdemeanor.

A battery is an unwanted touching of another person or intentionally causing bodily harm to that person, under Fla.Stat. § 784.03. It is a first degree misdemeanor unless there is a prior battery conviction or the victim experienced great harm or permanent disability or disfigurement, which would make it a third degree felony.

Aggravated assault is an assault or threat in which a deadly weapon was used, or where there was intent to commit a felony (Fla.Stat. § 784.021).  It is a third degree felony.

Aggravated battery means a battery in which the defendant either intended to cause great harm or permanent disability or disfigurement or used a deadly weapon (Fla.Stat. § 784.045).  It is a second degree felony.

If any assault or battery is against a law enforcement officer (LEO), firefighter or EMS paramedic, the charges are upgraded one level under Fla.Stat. § 784.07. For instance, an assault that would be a second degree misdemeanor becomes a first degree misdemeanor if the victim is a police officer.

Other Violent Crimes Defendants Might Face

Robbery (Fla.Stat. § 812.13): Robbery is committing a theft and, in the process, using force, violence, or putting the victim in fear.

A robbery is a second degree felony. However, if the defendant was carrying a weapon it is a first degree felony. Under the law, whether the weapon was used or merely carried does not matter.

Resisting Arrest (Fla.Stat. § 843.02): It is a crime to in any way resist, obstruct or oppose being arrested by a police officer or other law enforcement.  It is a first degree misdemeanor.

Kidnapping (Fla.Stat. § 787.01): Kidnapping means to confine, abduct or imprison someone forcibly. The accused must have the intent to hold the victim as a hostage, commit another felony, inflict bodily harm, terrorize the victim or any other person or interfere with a governmental or political function.

Kidnapping is a first degree felony, but can be a life felony in certain circumstances.

False Imprisonment (Fla.Stat. § 787.02): This offense involves restraining, abducting or imprisoning a person by force or threat of force against that person’s will.

Punishment for Crimes of Violence Under Florida Law

Violent crimes are punished according to their classification:

  • Life Felony: Life in prison, or at least 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000
  • First Degree Felony: Up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Second Degree Felony: Up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Third Degree Felony: Up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000
  • First Degree Misdemeanor: Up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
  • Second Degree Misdemeanor: Up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500

Additionally, most violent crimes cannot be sealed from your record. These include aggravated assault, aggravated battery, kidnapping, and robbery.  It’s best to have a Fort Walton criminal defense lawyer defending you.

Hate Crimes Under State Law

The state legislature has passed laws that make the punishment for crimes worse if they are committed against a person based on that person’s:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Ancestry
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Sexual Orientation
  • National Origin
  • Homeless Status
  • Mental or Physical Disability
  • Advanced Age

Under Fla. Stat. § 775.085, if prosecutors can prove that prejudice was the intent of the crime, then the penalties are upgraded one level. For instance, an assault that would normally be a first degree misdemeanor would be charged as a third degree felony.

It is very difficult to prove the necessary intent beyond a reasonable doubt for hate crimes. If the State Attorney makes the charge, they will pursue the case aggressively.  It’s very important to have a skilled representative on your side.

Ineligibility for Expunction or Record Sealing

For crimes of violence, Florida law specifically prohibits expungement or record sealing for many crimes involving violence, including aggravated assault, aggravated battery, and robbery.

After prosecution, you will not be able to get the records pertaining to your arrest sealed or expunged. You should contact me as soon as possible if you are arrested for any crime of violence. I will work to get the charges reduced or dismissed as soon as possible.

Resources for Crimes of Violence

State Attorney General Victims’ Service: This website has a list of different resources for people who claim to be the victims of crime.

State Crime Statistics: Data for the state is collected and organized on this page and maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.